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“Class Act”

joslyn castle classic weekend

photos courtesy of joslyn CASTLE trust

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On June 18, 19 and 20 at the Joslyn Castle, the Joslyn Castle Trust will host the Joslyn Classic Weekend. Featuring classic cars, high fashion and old-fashioned fun, the weekend will appeal to family members young and old(er) alike.

 


 

| history preserved |

The weekend event will be held on the Joslyn Castle grounds at 3902 Davenport Street. Joslyn Castle is now owned by the State of Nebraska and managed by the Joslyn Castle Trust. It was the family home of George and Sarah Joslyn, Nebraska’s wealthiest couple in the early part of the twentieth century. The Joslyn’s commissioned architect John McDonald to design their home and construction was

completed in 1903. He recreated a European mansion befitting of the Joslyn’s social status: a Scottish Baronial style home perched on a hill on the western outskirts of the young river town. The home, with all its intricate detail work, took only 11 months to build and cost the Joslyns an impressive $250,000 - it is considered priceless in today’s dollars.

The 19,360 square foot mansion is a showpiece of craftsmanship, replete with wrought iron, leaded glass, marble and mahogany. The grounds surrounding the castle matched its impressiveness with a green house and palm house full of delicate orchids, a lily pond, squirrel and bird houses, and lush herbaceous borders.

George Joslyn died in 1916 when he was in his 60s, and Sarah continued to live in the home she had shared with her husband and their adopted daughter, Violet, until her death in 1944. She was 88 years old. Always a supporter of the arts, Sarah wished her 5.5 acre estate be used to promote cultural activities and education in Omaha. Following Sarah’s death, the Omaha Public School’s (OPS) administrative offices were located in Joslyn Castle. When, in 1989, OPS moved to the recently remodeled Tech High building, the State of Nebraska assumed ownership of Joslyn Castle.

The stately home has long been a cornerstone of the neighborhood. The Joslyn Castle Trust, Inc., formerly The Friends of Joslyn Castle, works closely with surrounding neighborhood associations and Destination Midtown to preserve the viability and beauty of the area. “It accomplishes this by generating awareness, fostering appreciation and attracting financial support to preserve and restore the buildings and grounds on the estate so that future generations may enjoy part of Omaha’s vibrant past,” says Nano Little, Joslyn Castle Trust Executive Director.


| joslyn classic weekend |

The Trust hosts events throughout the year to raise both awareness and funds to continue the restoration of the Joslyn Castle property. The ASID Designer Showhouse, hosted in the fall, is one of the most notable fundraisers. “The showhouse took the Joslyn Castle Trust to a new level of visibility and fundraising,” says Mark Maser, Joslyn Castle Trust board member, “We wanted an event to compliment the Showhouse that would maintain interest in the castle, and we have created the Castle Classic Weekend.”

“The first-ever Joslyn Castle Classic Weekend will be a fabulous three days of fashion, food, art, jewelry and vintage vehicles,” says Susan McMannama, Joslyn Castle Trust Board member and chair of the Joslyn Castle Classic Weekend. The idea for the event came from Maser’s father who had participated in numerous classic car shows. The combination of high fashion and sleek cars was popular in Paris. Models arrived at fashion shows in classic cars, and eventually, the cars became as integral to the events as the fashion.

The highlights of Joslyn Classic Weekend include a vintage car show, a style show and luncheon, and a 1920s Jazz and Gin Gala, complete with Charleston lessons, a gourmet meal, and live music from Sing Sing Swing Orchestra. Old-fashioned games, live music, face painting, jugglers, and food round out the weekend, making it fun for the entire family.


| the men behind the motors |

“This is not your typical car show put on in a parking lot with loud 50s music. This is a class act,” assures Jerry Vincentini, organizer of the weekend’s Castle Classic Car Show. Vincentini has over 50 years experience restoring and collecting vintage and classic cars. The Joslyn show is unique on many levels. The caliber and number of entries is top notch. Antique cars, motorcycles and bicycles will be on display. “It’s the ‘Peoples Choice Awards’ for cars,” explains Vincentini. There is also no formal judging; visitors vote for their favorite cars.

Though the title of the event is “Joslyn Castle Car Classic,” Vincentini says a car must have been made between 1910 and the 1940s to earn the “classic” name. Cars pre- or post- dating this time span are considered vintage, distinctive or collector cars.

Vincentini will show four of his own cars and one 1934 Harley motorcycle with a side car and reverse gear. His collection tops out at about 20 cars and 15 motorcycles, including three 1951 Ford Victorias. Says Vincentini: “I mainly collect cars I was familiar with in the 1950s.”

Vincentini invited Roger Olsen, a fellow car enthusiast, to participate in the weekend’s show. Olsen, whose current project is the restoration of a 1929 Ford Model A coupe, was happy to oblige. He is bringing his 1939 Lincoln Zephyr coupe. “It’s a rare car,” Olsen explains. “Only 5,800 were built between 1938 and 1939.” Burgundy red with tan interior, the Zephyr is a three-passenger, three-window, three-gear stick shift, art deco coupe. Its accessories include white tires, overdrive, and an A.M. radio.

But mostly Olsen likes to restore Fords: “I grew up with Fords.” In particular, he gravitates towards Model A’s from the 1940s and 1950s. “They have the best survival rate of cars from that age,” he maintains. And finding parts for the restorations, on which his son sometimes joins in, is comparatively easy. Olsen describes restoring cars as a fun hobby. Though it may not be as simple as bird watching or stamp collecting, he admits it serves a similar purpose: “It keeps me out of the bars.”

Bob Chalek is a self-described car nut who has fed his fascination for cars since he was in high school. His entry for the Joslyn Classic Car Show is a 1932 Cadillac LaSalle. Chalek found it at an auction, the only car he has restored that he ever bought at auction. “Usually they find me,” he chuckles. Only 2,300 of its kind were produced in 1932, so his entry is a relatively rare automobile. It’s a four door town sedan that sports a sleek black exterior and brown mohair interior.

It was a cosmetic, or partial, restoration, says Chalek. The body was not taken from the frame. But Chalek enjoys the challenge of a total restoration. “It is intriguing to me to bring one [a car] back from the dead,” he states.

He sells what he restores to fund his “habit.” His favorite cars include GM cars - Chevrolets and Pontiacs. Chalek’s first restoration was back in 1954 when he worked on a 1938 LaSalle convertible. Over the ensuing 50 plus years, he has infused life back into 10 cars.
Richard Schultz is more of a motorcycle man than car-crazed.

The 82-year-old retiree has restored over 80 motorcycles during his 40 years over refurbishing and collecting antique cars and bikes. He still possesses numerous motorcycles and seven cars, which include a 1930 Model A Roadster, a 1942 Willis military jeep, a 1951 Henry J, a 1953 Henry J and a 1959 Chrysler New Yorker.

However, bikes are his first love. He bought his first Harley Davidson in 1945 during his junior year in high school for $250, and the rest, as they say, is history. Eighty plus bikes later he is still going strong. Schultz will be bringing highlights from his collection to the Joslyn. A 1919 Excelsior, a brand that Schultz says developed after the turn of the 20th century, with a side car is one of his entries. A rare bike with only 4,000 miles, it still sports its original olive green paint. He purchased it in Minnesota forty years ago. He’ll also bring a 1906 Indian motorcycle and a 1910 Yale.

Collecting and restoring bikes and cars is “an incredible hobby,” Schultz says. Its allure is that it is multifaceted. “The thrill of the hunt, negotiating its purchase, researching for the restoration, the actual act of restoring” are all engaging for Schultz. And it has the added bonus of connecting him to other car and bike enthusiasts all over the world. He has met Steve McQueen at the Davenport swap meet and has helped Jay Leno locate missing parts for the comedian’s 1932 Indian motorcycle.

For Jim Canedy, restoring cars is a father-son venture. As a young teen, Canedy and his father first began working on cars together. “It was a wonderful way to get to know each other,” Canedy recalls, “There were few distractions, and we were able to talk for hours at a time.” Flash forward a few decades and the father-son team is now Canedy and his 17-year-old son, James. James has spent much of his young life with his head under the hood of a car next to his father.

The two Canedys, along with family friend Kirk Kummer, restored a 1957 Isetta 300, their entry in the Joslyn Castle Classic Car Show. Canedy dubs it the “original Smart Car.” Initially manufactured by the Italian car company, Iso, BMW bought the rights to produce the Isetta after World War II. It is a diminutive drive: it holds only two people, has one door that opens in front like a refrigerator, has a single cylinder engine, lacks a trunk, and only has one gauge- the speedometer. It has only a three gallon capacity gas tank but can get up to 68 miles per gallon. It won’t set any records for speed, however: it will accelerate up to 50mph, but only “downhill and with a tailwind,” jokes Canedy.
Canedy enjoys car shows because they aptly showcase the automobile’s evolution. “Each generation builds on the next,” he states. Rather like the father-son car restoring tradition.


| puttin’ on the ritz |

the fashion classic

The weekend kicks off Friday, June 18 with The Fashion Classic luncheon and fashion show. Starting at 11 a.m. is the Fashion Show under the Tent. New and vintage fashion from she.la boutique, Lafayette 148, and Pish Posh children’s apparel will be featured. Accessorizing the ensembles is one-of-a-kind estate jewelry from Borsheim’s. Following the outdoor fashion show is a luncheon inside the Castle.

On display in the Castle throughout the entire weekend are antique fashions from private collector, Kathleen Best’s, collection. Best started collecting antique apparel 45 years ago when she happened upon a beaded, 1920 dress. She purchased the gown for $2 and thus began her passion for fashion.

Best’s collection exceeds 500 items of women’s, men’s and children’s clothing from the 1870s until the 1940s. Though she recognizes that “vintage” clothing from the 60s and 70s is in demand today, she focused on the early part of the 20th century: “I didn’t like to think the clothes I used to wear were vintage.”

Clothing from this time period is rare which makes Best’s collection so special. And given its size, adequate storage is problematic. Thus, samples from her collection are on display throughout the state in museums and historical societies, and she has begun giving portions of her collection to the University of Nebraska at Lincoln’s Department of Needlework and Design. The Joslyn will focus on women’s apparel with two dresses from 1900-1910, two from 1910-1920, nine from the Roaring 20s, and one coat wrap from the 1930s.

So celebrate Father’s Day by stepping back in time. Picnic outdoors, stroll through beautiful gardens, take in the artistry of vintage fashions, and witness the craftsmanship of collector cars. Slow down and savor the moment. You won’t miss the fast lane.

Tickets for the Classic Car Show are $10 in advance at area Hy-Vee stores or online. Children under 12 are free. For more information and tickets to the other weekend events, call the Joslyn Caste at 595-2199 or visit www.joslyncastlecarclassic.com.

-end- metroMAGAZINE

 

 

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